In celebrating Valentine’s Day, I never thought beyond cards, candy, and perhaps some extra hugs for and from my loved ones. It wasn’t until my sweet mother-in-law gave Daughter a children’s book about St. Valentine that I connected the holiday to an actual person. Valentine’s Day, just like Saint Patrick’s Day, is the feast day of Saint Valentine, as designated by the church.
Valentinus — from the Latin word valens meaning worthy, strong or powerful — was thought to be a 3rd century Roman priest who was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and helping Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius. While awaiting execution, one legend claims that Valentinus, through his prayers, restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. Another account notes that on the eve of his execution, “he left her a note that was signed ‘from your Valentine.'”
Valentinus was ultimately executed in Rome and buried on the Flaminian way in 269.
Since he is the Patron Saint of love, lovers, engaged couples, and happy marriages young people (also bee keepers, travelers, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, plague and travelers!) it makes sense that we celebrate love on his feast day.
But Valentine’s Day as we know it seemed to pop up around 1375, after English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Parliament of Foules”. In this poem, Chaucer writes of February 14 as the day when birds come together to find a mate. From this point on, Valentine’s Day became associated with romantic love.
Whether we have Valentinus or Chaucer to credit, all these years later we are still preparing to celebrate Valentine’s Day, often exchanging chocolates (and kisses!) with our sweethearts. Which is why the following excerpt from Think Italian about the delicious Italian candy, Baci, caught my attention. Just for fun (and completely unsponsored), I offer a little dual language Valentine’s Day gift to you. Translation by me, corrections welcomed!
“Perugina e` il nome di una famosissima azienda di dolci di Perugia, in Umbria, che produce cioccolato ed altri dolci.”
Perugina is the name of a very famous confection company in Umbria, which produces chocolates and other sweets.
“Fondata nel 1907 ed acquistata dalla Nestle’ nel 1988, e` conosciuta per i suoi buonissimi, insuperabili Baci Perugina. I Baci in Italia sono un simbolo legato all’amore ed alla festa di San Valentino perche` la compagnia ha sempre usato una aggressive campagna di marketing: in ogni cioccolatino trovate una frase romantic scritta in varie lingue.”
Founded in 1907 and acquired by Nestle’ in 1988, it is known for it’s very good, unequalled Baci Perugina. (Kisses, pronounced bah-chee). The Baci in Italy are a symbol connected to love and to Valentine’s Day because the company has always used an aggressive marketing campaign: in every little chocolate you find a romantic phrase written in various languages.
“Un esempio? ‘La ragione e l’amore sono nemici giurati.'”
An example? “Reason and love are sworn enemies.”
Do you have a fun fact to offer about St. Valentine or Valentine’s Day traditions in Italy or around the globe? Please share with us in the comments!